Told by the narrator Death, The Book Thief is the story of Liesel Meminger, who is a nine-year-old girl during Nazi Germany. After losing her family, Liesel must move to Himmel Street. During Liesel's stay at her foster family's home, she discovers something she loves: books. Liesel steals the books, while her foster father teaches her to read. On Himmel Street, Liesel also becomes best friends with Rudy Steiner, a boy who admires Jesse Owens and has a crush on Liesel. Together, they have many antics, which include stealing books. Along with Rudy, Liesel shares her books with Max Vandenburg, a Jewish fistfighter...
Some books leave an imprint on you, and The Book Thief was one of those books. From the very beginning, I had a feeling I would enjoy the novel, but I was cautious because setting high expectations is an easy way to ruin a book. The Book Thief surpassed any expectations I had. Markus Zusak takes a common setting, Germany during WWII, and puts an unique twist on it. The stories of Liesel, Max, Rudy, and all the other characters had so much heart, which is unusual for a book set during a time of death and sorrow.
Zusak's characterizations themselves were also quite interesting. My favorite characterization is easily Death. Throughout the novel, Zusak humanizes Death. Death is shocked by mankind's brutal nature. Death's typical characterization is generally cold and heartless, but to have a sympathetic Death was, in my mind, brilliant. This characterization makes me really think about the power of humans, and how we should all perform acts of kindness, rather than hate. I mean, it's pretty bad when Death itself is appalled. Anyway, I also loved Zusak's characterization of humans. Throughout the novel, humans are dehumanized by their various acts, including most obviously, their treatment of Jews. Zusak, however, also showcases various acts of kindness and shows readers that humans have the capability to be kind. With a story that is surrounded by cruelty, I think this was a powerful and important message.
I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a story set in Nazi Germany.
Markus Zusak's Website
I received this book from Random Buzz.